Poland to demand €1.3 trillion from Germany in WWII reparations

The Polish government on Thursday estimated the financial cost of World War II losses under Nazi occupation at €1.3 trillion and said it would “ask Germany to negotiate these reparations”.

“It’s a significant sum of 6.2 trillion” zlotys, Deputy Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of the ruling Law and Justice party, told a conference.

He added the process of Poland’s getting the reparations would be “long and difficult”.

The sum was announced at the release of a report on the cost of years of Nazi German occupation. Some 30 historians, economists and other experts have been working on the document since 2017.

The country’s right-wing government says Poland has not been compensated by Germany while Berlin argues compensation was paid to East Bloc nations in the years after the war.

Nazi German occupation of Poland began 83 years ago and lasted until the end of the war in May 1945.

President Andrzej Duda said the war was “one of the most terrible tragedies in our history” at a remembrance event near Gdansk.

“Not only because it took our freedom, not only because it took our state from us, but also because this war meant millions of victims among Poland’s citizens and irreparable losses to our homeland and our nation,” Duda said.

Dietmar Nietan, the German government’s official for German-Polish cooperation, said in a statement that 1 September “remains a day of guilt and shame for Germany that reminds us time and again not to forget the crimes carried out by Germany” that are the “darkest chapter in our history” and still affect bilateral relations.

Reconciliation offered by people in Poland is “the basis on which we can look toward the future together in a united Europe,” Nietan said.

Poland’s government rejects a 1953 declaration by the country’s then-communist leaders, under pressure from the Soviet Union, agreeing not to make any further claims on Germany.

An opposition lawmaker, Grzegorz Schetyna, said the report is just a “game in the internal politics” and insists Poland needs to build good relations with Berlin.

Some six million of Poland’s citizens, including three million Jews, were killed in the war and its industry, infrastructure and culture suffered huge losses.

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